Man, wielding knives, shot by police in Gateway

It’s unclear why officers shot the man in outer East Portland, who witnesses say was ‘acting very crazy’ – but this wasn’t his first encounter with police …

In the Gateway district of the Hazelwood neighborhood, SE Stark Street is closed after police encounter a disturbed-behaving man threatening with a knife.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

On a busy Sunday afternoon, Holiday shoppers near Mall 205 were surprised to find the intersection of SE Stark Street and 103rd Avenue closed to traffic, with a large Portland Police Bureau (PPB) presence, on the afternoon of December 8.

“I saw this guy acting very crazy, yelling and waving a knife around while he was just wandering around, in and around the cars in the street – and then the cops came – a whole lot of cops,” said Brian Dutton, who told East Portland News he saw the events unfold while having a latté in the Starbucks at the intersection.

“With all the cars and stuff, I couldn’t see anything, but I heard a couple of pretty big ‘bangs’ – and not long after, a couple shots,” Dutton recalled.

A detective holds a bag of evidence near the scene where the incident took place.

PPB detectives watch and wait while Crime Scene Investigators work.

With 33 units responding to the call, it’s clear why Dutton’s vision was obscured. As the investigation continued two PPB Mobile Command Centers were called to the scene.

Logs show that officers were dispatched at 1:43 p.m., after a person called the 9-1-1 Center reporting seeing a man in the street, waving a knife.

PPB East Precinct Commander Tashia Hager talks with officers at the scene.

In an audio recording of police radio channels made by Broadcastify, moments before the shots were heard, a male voice – perhaps an officer or dispatcher – commented, “It could be a coincidence, but several weeks ago, a guy tried to induce a suicide by cop in the same area, that matches the description, and he was armed with several knives on him – [This is] just for responding officers.

Perhaps this is why an officer first fired less-lethal gun that launches foam-tipped projectiles – the loud “bang” heard by several witnesses. The device is designed to strike a subject from a distance.

It was in this area when the suspect and police clashed.

Logged at 1:50 p.m. came the radio call “subject down” – followed requests for immediate emergency medical response to the area.

“Officers approached the subject and a short time later, officers reported that shots had been fired,” said a PPB spokesperson.

“Detectives confirmed that less-lethal and lethal rounds were fired; officers rendered medical assistance and called for medical response. The subject was determined to be deceased at the scene,” the official reported.

PPB Homicide Detectives say these knives were found near the subject, Koben S. Henriksen.

On December 9, the Multnomah County Medical Examiner confirmed the identity of the subject involved the officer involved shooting as 51-year-old Koben S. Henriksen.

Two previous police encounters revealed
On December 12, a PPB official revealed that Henriksen had two previous encounters with officers.

“On August 22nd, 2019, at 8:00 a.m., an East officer responded to the 1500 block of SE 96th Avenue to assist with a subject who was camped on the school’s private property (of Portland Adventist Academy).

“The officer arrived and contacted a male, who was identified as Koben Henriksen. Henriksen told the officer he was glad the officer was there because he needed someone to kill him and he thought police officers were the best option. He told the officer he had tried to get several military veterans to purchase firearms for him, but he was unsuccessful.

“The officer talked to Henriksen and was ultimately able to request an ambulance and put a ‘Police Officer Hold’ on Henriksen. Henriksen was transported to Portland Adventist [Medical Center] for treatment. No force was used in this incident.”

On into the evening, the investigation into the December incident continues.

The statement continued that, at the same intersection where he was shot, Henriksen again encountered officers on November 14 at 11:27 a.m.

“Henriksen yelled at the officer and the officer asked how he could help him and began exiting the patrol vehicle. Henriksen had a large blanket draped around him. Henriksen flung the blanket away and the officer was able to see he had a knife in each hand with the blades extended toward the officer. Henriksen threatened to kill the officer and took a step toward the officer. The officer yelled at Henriksen to drop the knives.

“The officers had a firearm and electronic control device prepared. They requested cover officers and used the vehicle as cover (protection) while they attempted to de-escalate the situation. Henriksen paced and shouted, but retreated.

“An officer spoke with him and after some discussion, Henriksen listened to the officer’s direction and threw the knives down. Henriksen was taken into custody without force being utilized and transported to Providence Hospital on a ‘Police Officer Hold’.”

Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw speaks at a community meeting. East Portland News archive image

In a prepared statement, PPB Chief of Police Danielle Outlaw said, in part:

“The intent of putting this information out is not to sway the outcome of any ongoing investigations, nor tarnish the character of the involved subject in any way.

“This series of cases highlights the systemic failures of the mental health system, which continues to recycle individuals rather than resolve the underlying issues. There are a number of accountability measures in effect for the officers involved, which will scrutinize their every action and decision. Where is the same level of accountability throughout the mental health system?

“Law enforcement professionals are put in an impossible position and we need the public to help prioritize effective and humane mental health treatment and demand urgent and immediate action.”

Multnoma County comments on incident
On December 13, Multnomah County Communications Director Julie Sullivan-Springhetti released this statement:

“It is a tragedy anytime anyone in crisis dies in our community. Every one of us has people we know who struggle with mental health challenges. Multnomah County will wait for the official review on the death of Koben Henriksen to bear out the facts.

“Ultimately, anyone experiencing a mental health crisis should not have to face a violent death at the hands of law enforcement.

“The County is actively working to provide other options locally for these situations because even if our mental health system were fully-funded, people are still going to experience crisis in public. We can, and we must, do better.”

If you have information about this incident, please contact Detective Billy Winters at (503) 823-0466 or William.winters@portlandoregon.gov or Detective Travis Law at (503) 823-0395 or travis.law@portlandoregon.gov.

© 2019 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

 

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